Perfect for a cold, rainy night, chicken and dumplings is a classic American comfort food dish that I originally found a recipe for in the Little Big Book of Comfort Food, but has evolved over time since I began making it in the easiest of all cooking appliances — the slow cooker. I also like to keep the cut of the vegetables large so that they retain some toothsomeness. While not exactly soup, the hot, steaming broth, large cut of tender chicken, aromatic vegetables, and boiled chive dumplings served in a shallow bowl equal a warming, hearty meal.
Rub the chicken pieces with the softened butter and season with salt and pepper and put aside. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker, add the broth and bouquet garni, and then place the chicken pieces on top so that they are half-submerged in the broth. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (or if your slow cooker has a temperature probe, cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 175 degrees.)
When the chicken is done, remove the chicken pieces and put in a warmed oven (about 200 degrees or less). Keep the slow cooker on high. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the butter, milk, and chives.
Using a spoon, place balls of dough into the broth in the slow cooker. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes, then turn the dumplings and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until puffed up and soft all the way through.